In the 1970s, a new genre of writing came into the scene of American literature. This genre featured factual information, but it stole scenes and narrative structure from fiction, lyricism and experimentation from poetry. The author could be subjective and could refer to him or herself with the pronoun “I” within the text; they could allow their mind to work on the page, to explore the question “What do I know?” instead of assert knowledge. The writing was artful and often unforgettable. There was debate among writers and scholars about what to call this “fourth genre”: literature of fact, literary nonfiction, or narrative nonfiction…before tentatively agreeing on “creative nonfiction.” But creative nonfiction isn’t really new—one of the earliest texts dates back to 2700 B.C.E. Through the origins of creative nonfiction, this course will tour the world and discover ancient peoples’ day-to-day realities, beliefs, and styles of self-expression. Along with readings regarding the craft and practice of writing, we will follow the journey of the literary essay to the present day. Students will have the opportunity to contribute to this rich history by writing their own works of creative nonfiction.

Student Learning Objectives:

Once students successfully complete this course, they will be able to:

  1. Evaluate primary ancient to contemporary creative nonfiction texts from varying cultural and historical contexts;
  2. Explain the relationships of literary craft and presentation in ancient and modern key creative texts;
  3. Compare works from various perspectives, cultural traditions, and historical eras in terms of style, content or theme;
  4. Recognize and evaluate how selected, key works in the creative nonfiction canon reflect national, cultural, and ethnic differences, even as they invoke shared human experiences that may relate to contemporary audiences;
  5. Construct persuasive arguments and increase writing proficiency through analytical essays characterized by original and insightful theses, supported by logically integrated and sound subordinate ideas, appropriate and pertinent evidence, and good sentence structure, diction, grammar, punctuation, and spelling.